A lack of joined up thinking in this prisoner housing case?
This prisoner housing case shows a lack of “joined up” thinking between the criminal justice system, social services and a local authority landlord. We take a committed aproach. As a result a client in prison for drugs and firearms offences kept his home and his children could live with him.
The possession claim
In May 2019 possession proceedings were issued against our client who was serving a prison sentence for drugs offences and possession of a prohibited weapon. Fortunately Moss & Co had experience of prisoner housing cases and had also dealt with his criminal matter. Our client was a secure tenant with the London Borough of Islington who issued possession proceedings based on antisocial behaviour. In addition, he was in substantial rent arrears.
Narinder Moss, the partner in charge of housing work, filed a defence on the basis that our client was the main carer for his two young sons. Further that he had cared for them since they were very young. We said he wanted to continue as their parent on release. Accordingly, we obtained a favourable report from the prison. Importantly this included confirmation that he had successfully attended drugs rehabilitation courses.
Further Moss & Co obtained evidence from neighbours who liked and supported our client. Independent evidence is very important in prisoner housing cases. Fortunately the neighbours confirmed that there was no evidence that he had caused any antisocial behaviour. This had the effect of showing that the council were simply relying on his convictions.
The case settles
The prison released our client shortly before the possession case. We were ready for trial and had served all our evidence. We claimed the evidence showed that it was not reasonable to grant possession. In addition, we argued that the council, when deciding to seek possession, had not considered the welfare of our client’s children. This was contrary to the provisions of s11 of the Children’s Act 2004 which says that local authorities must make sure that:
“When their functions are discharged, they have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children”.
We argued that Islington had not complied with their statutory duty. Our client was very relieved when two weeks before trial the council agreed to settle the case and he kept his and his children’s home. Prisoner housing cases are not straighforward but we can almost always help.
If you need help with your case call 020 8986 8336.